World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Samuel Kobia has called on the Ethiopian government "to exercise utmost restraint and bring to an immediate halt the military action against the people and release the political prisoners as soon as possible".

In a letter sent last Friday to Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, Kobia expresses "great sadness" for the "death of many Ethiopians following demonstrations and riots in Addis Ababa", and warns that "further military action against the people is an escalation of violence and will further damage the political climate and make dialogue even less possible".

Kobia met Zenawi last September when visiting the WCC member churches in the country, and expressed his conviction that "honest dialogue with the opposition" was needed. After his visit, he wrote to the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces with the same appeal "to resolve the political impasse through dialogue".

The full text of the letter is available at:

See also our Press Release of 3 October 2005